A Venetian Passover
A Venetian Passover

“Italian Jews! Two great names, two enviable glories, two superb crowns are united in you. Who among you would not reverently bow his head before those who can boast of both Moses and Dante?”
-Italian-Hebrew scholar Elia Benamozegh

Known throughout the world for its unparalleled natural beauty and remarkable artistic achievements, Italy presents an equally rich tapestry of Jewish cultural expression. You are invited to spend a unique and memorable Passover in the Venetian lagoon, enjoying ten fascinating days immersing yourself in the life of Italian Jews, both past and present.

Since the first Jewish community settled in Rome in the second century BCE, Jews have left an indelible mark throughout Italy. But Venice, the city of Shylock, has always held a particular allure for Jews, and it is here that you will first be introduced to Jewish life in Northeastern Italy. Site of the world’s first Jewish ghetto (the Jewish quarter was located on the island of Venice’s foundry, known as the geto), you will explore a Venice that most visitors never see—or knew existed—with your guide, a Jewish American art historian, and long-time resident of the Veneto. Later, we explore Ferrara, an important Renaissance printing center for Jewish texts and, of course, home to the Jewish families depicted in Vittorio de Sica’s internationally acclaimed film, The Garden of the Finzi-Contini. Other cities, including Mantua and Modena, will also be refracted through their Jewish facets, including a famous Renaissance painting with a disturbing Jewish theme, and a unforgettable WW2 holding camp, with its moving museum honoring all deportees. Our tour draws to a close in Piedmont, a region rich in Jewish culture, and home to a number of small, beautiful synagogues. At every stop, there will be places, people, and stories that reveal an ancient and still thriving Jewish culture in magnificent and surprising ways.

Each visit and day trip will be accompanied by in-depth, preparatory commentary on historic, literary, and artistic subjects related to the sites to be visited. A brief reading list will also be provided to enhance your visit. In addition, many world-class wines and hearty meals*, including a traditional Italian Pesach, are included as part of the trip. Come enjoy the rich history of Italy’s Jewish culture, the exquisite scenery of three regions of northern Italy, and a Passover to remember.

(*Please note that meals provided are not kosher, but all meals include a vegetarian option. If necessary, meals can be arranged independently at Venice’s kosher restaurant, Gam-Gam.)

Please contact us directly for a more detailed, tentative itinerary.

Day 1 “Orientation”
Arrival in Venice and orientation
Explore Jewish ghetto and environs

Day 2 “Historic Venice: Jewish Synagogues and Cemeteries”
Guided visit of the Museum of Jewish Art and Venice’s five historic synagogues
Lunch with members of the Jewish community of Venice
Boat ride and guided visit of the historic Jewish cemetery
Guided visit of St. Mark’s basilica with an emphasis on its Old Testament mosaics

Day 3 “Jewish-Venetian Cuisine”
Enjoy a Jewish Venetian cooking class and lunch (including marketing excursion at the Rialto)
Free afternoon to explore the city, shop

Day 4 “The Arts”
Guided tour of the Peggy Guggenheim museum followed by lunch with a countess in her Venetian palazzo, including a private viewing of her glass collection

Day 5 “Buon Pesach”
Transfer to Ferrara; free afternoon to explore Ferrara by bike (provided)
Passover dinner

Day 6 “From the Finzi-Contini to Ferrara”
Guided visit of Ferrara synagogue and meeting with rabbi
Jewish music recital

Day 7 “WW2 History of Italy”
Day trip to Fossoli, site of the Museum of Deportees
Lunch in Modena at a Balsamic Vinegar estate

Day 8 “Renaissance Art and the Jews”

Transfer to Piedmont region via Mantua
Dinner with Jewish community members in Casale Monferrato

Day 9 “Ancient and Modern Communities”
Morning guided visit of one of Italy’s most beautiful synagogues
Afternoon visit and wine tasting at local vineyard
Farewell dinner

Day 10
Departures (Milan)
Walking Level
1 - good trail-running/walking shoes recommended

Group minimum 20, maximum 26; includes accommodations, transportation, guide and driver costs and select meals.

Please contact us for more details